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Comments about ‘66,511 volunteers set FamilySearch indexing record’

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Published: Saturday, July 26 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Saturday, July 26 2014 1:54 p.m. MDT

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utah dane
Herriman / USA, UT

Red Corvette - Which part of the article made you think this was done in haste? The article said a record number of people participated, which in turn resulted in a record number of records being processed. My wife was one of those who processed two batches of names and I can assure you that it was not done in haste, but carefully and with love. Hats off to all those who participated in this awesome event!

Laura Ann
Layton, UT

If you want to get good at something, you have to practice. Sure, people make mistakes, that's why there are arbitrators. When I first started indexing, my scores weren't as high as I wanted them to be, but I learned and got better. I'm thrilled that so many people were willing to volunteer their time to help with a worthy cause. Thank you to anyone who helped as it helps me with my genealogy!

sfcretdennis
Nice, CA

Red Corvette: Have you done any work in this field? It is not easy as names can be hard to read and make out. However, at lest two indexers are given the same page and then there is arbitration should there be any differences between the two. No one know who ells is doing the same page you are doing. If you have not tried to do the work give it a try and bay be you will not criticize the work we do.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Inaccuracies will happen. However, having two people do it separately, then any discrepancies adjudicated by an arbitrator is a very sound approach.

The real problems are the difficulty reading old script, the haphazard spelling used by those making the original records (or the people they talked to), and the sometimes poor quality of the images from which the indexers must work.

Instead of lamenting that fact that there is not 100% accuracy for millions of records, we should be thankful, and grateful to the volunteers, that there are in fact millions of records that may be 80% (or more?) accurate. That is a far bigger help than having a warehouse full of paper documents that no one has ever looked at in the last 50 years, and no one has any idea of what might be there. You can spend weeks arguing over a single document.

In my own research, I have found records with surnames spelled multiple ways in the actual records, and most are faithfully transcribed by indexers. This may be the fault of my semi-literate, foreign born and speaking ancestors, or the work of a not much better qualified census taker with poor penmanship.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I'm not LDS but I have used these sites for my research. I had no idea that many people were involved in this project. Many thanks!

Nita Harris
Saratoga Springs, UT

Red Corvette, your assumption that “the amount of inaccuracies in the indexed records is stunning” is wrong. The article states that once indexed by two volunteers, an arbitrator checks them before the records are live online. I remember that when I volunteered years ago every batch I indexed was also indexed separately by another volunteer, with an arbitrator checking each batch afterwards.

sammyg
Springville, UT

Red Corvette

What constitutes an inaccuracy? Many records have inaccuracies. Enumerators constantly misspelled names, got information mixed up, and so forth.

We can only provide our best efforts as volunteers and this system of two indexers and an arbitrator is a proven process that balances effort with accuracy and production.

Today search engines can allow for input errors and group records with similar phonetic similarities. It's up to the researcher to take into account these anomalies in records and to check their sources.

Since doing research in the B.C (before computers) era and comparing that to now... we are light years beyond.

I am very grateful for indexing. I remember very well the days of a rare printed index being available and having to travel a 1000 miles to Salt Lake to view them. Today I can do so much from the convenience of my home and do it in my pajamas when I want to. A far cry from what I could do just a few short years ago.

The few inaccuracies found in indexed records is quite stunning.

CarolAnn
Ava, MO

Actually, there is a process where there can be even more than arbitrator if necessary. Therefore, there are all kinds of checks and balances built in. They also have pages and pages of helps where you can go to get help with "bad" handwriting examples or old handwriting and instructions on what to do when more than one spelling is found, so this is no simple, ill-thought out process thought about one morning and put online that evening. I would imagine that those who volunteered had some interest in Family History and some experience. Still, as evidenced by some of the pictures of those indexing during this project even those with experience often do so in groups and help each other when they are having a hard time or difficulty reading what is onscreen. There is also the added line, that if you find yourself in over your head as I did on one batch, you can return it, say it was too difficult, and ask for another. There are other ways to keep the best results possible too numerous to count/list here.

CarolAnn
Ava, MO

Red Corvette,

How were you able to account for the stunning amount of inaccuracies that you refer to with such an air of knowledge????

Sqweebie
Salt Lake City, UT

okay - about the misspelled names - the census taker for example spelled it the way he heard it which means phonetically. Another thing - the census was taken from whoever answered the door which meant that 11 year old Timmy could have given his sister's embarressing nickname.

So the misspellings are not the fault of the indexer but rather it is due to the way that the census taker heard it.

Gene Poole
SLC, UT

Having indexed several thousand records and still feeling like a novice, I am pleased with the checks and balances that are in place to help eliminate some of the inaccuracies. That the records are being digitized is a wonderful thing. I'm sure down in St. George all things are perfect but in the 'real world' there is only One who was perfect in all things. So, the efforts of us imperfect ones is better than no effort at all.

The purpose of indexing is to digitize a multi-billion record storehouse of printed and microfilmed data so that people all over the world can begin to find their long gone relatives records. The real impact to me personally has been the sense of families - not just data - that is connecting together.

BTW, Red Corvette, standing by your comment doesn't make you right. It just makes you inflexible. You may want to consider that real purpose of the efforts of thousands of imperfect volunteers worldwide amassing these records. It may have no interest to you except to find fault but to many of us, it is another lifeline to our families long gone.

CarolAnn
Ava, MO

Again, Red C. I would be interested how you have been able to identify a vast amount of incorrect data being input? Were you an arbitrator at first level or an arbitrator further up in the process? How were you able to gain access to files that are not made public until the data has gone through a lengthy process to ensure accuracy? Just curious.

sukiyhtaky
us, CA

I am not a member, but I have participated in FS indexing to the rate of almost 100,000 names with 98% accuracy. I am one of those nuts who will call and find a specialist in old Canadian Indian tribal names and spend 3-4 hours having him help me discern correct spellings by faxing images back and forth or tracking down the original ship logs to see the handwriting for myself instead of relying on the printed image provided etc. There is a hardcore group of old timers so concerned with accuracy that we do stuff like that. However, there has been a shift in recent years where the push is to get more people who don't necessarily have the credentials or detail oriented natures to be concerned with accuracy. Add to this FS coupling with Ancestry who go to India and other third world countries unfamiliar with most of the names being indexed and the hard core start seeing more and more errors being duplicated on FS and Ancestry. Corvette is right the amount of errors is stunning. It is a problem and if you speak with any indexing director or FHC director they will tell you of the many complaints.

sukiyhtaky
us, CA

Pt 2...Yes, there are two indexers and an arbitrator, but (no offense to the awesome arbitrators who do a great job) many like being an arbitrator for the 'prestige' factor and are unqualified and untrained. There were so many complaints about their mistakes FS started doing arbitrator training sessions, but the problems persist. Add in the effort to pull kids in to get them started in genealogy as it is not 'cool' or a popular thing and you now have kids 10-12 who have no perspective of historical names first or last, geographical places etc and you have even more problems. On top of it when you go to check why you were marked incorrect and you can see and prove you are correct they essentially just pat you on the head and say well there is no way to fix it. At least Ancestry has a way to add a correction on when you see an error so that it gets cross referenced.

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

It was a shame that the servers couldn't handle the load, we had 30+ people trying to index and kept getting Server Not Available errors in the application. I wonder how high the number could have gone had the infrastructure supported them all. After about an hour of trying we finally had 3 people get batches.

bj-hp
Maryville, MO

It is too bad that some would rather just have so called professionals due the indexing instead of a group of volunteers who take time to try and get it right. You know it would take years or even longer if it was left up to only those who are paid to get it done.

After all we don't want 10-12 year olds doing something someone could be paid to do it. After all the records have to be perfect even though many of the records are not perfect in themselves. Others would prefer that everything is done at a snails pace which means it would never get done and be provided for. For all the complaints that one makes, millions upon millions are welcome to having the information provided. Sure Red Corvette has some problems but how much of the work is he actually doing. Probably nothing at all. One talks to maybe three or four Family History Center advisors and it becomes most. I've done my study and the amount can be more contributed to individuals who are not perfect. Malachi's prophesy is being fulfilled as we speak.

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